It is still Dr. Martin Luther King Day in Southern California. Happy Holiday and y’all are familiar with his “I had a Dream” Speech, but if not, here it is: (copy righted until 2038 but as Dr. MLK once said: “...one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.")? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIshI_qxxew (full version).Learning to read and write had always been the privilege of the elite and upper classes until the day public education was made mandatory. It varied from country to country. The Jewish culture of learning may be the exception, see Wendy’s post here http://boards.fool.com/when-did-common-man-learn-to-read-and....For the African slaves brought against their will to these shores, reading and writing usually had to be acquired by stealth. To this day there is inequity in teaching, funds for supplies and repairs of school buildings. Hear the voices of African American poets on the subject (excerpts only):Learning to ReadVery soon the Yankee teachers Came down and set up school;But, oh! how the Rebs did hat it,– It was agin’ their rule.Our masters always tried to hide Book learning from our eyes:Knowledge didn’t agree with slavery– ‘Twould make us all too wise.But some of us would try to steal A little from the book,And put the words together, And learn by hook and crook.I remember Uncle Caldwell, Who took pot-liquor fatAnd greased the pages of his book, And hid it in his hat.And had his master ever seen The leaves upon his head,He’d have thought them greasy papers, But nothing to be read..... Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911), born free in Baltimore, MD, a prolific poet, writer, activist in the Underground RailroadFor My People....For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learnto know the reasons why and the answers to and thepeople who and the places where and the days when, inmemory of the bitter hours when we discovered we were black and poor and small and different and nobody caredand nobody wondered and nobody understood;For the boys and girls who grew in spite of these thins to beMan and Woman, to laugh and dance and sing and play and drink their wine and religion and success, to marrytheir playmates and bear children and then die of consumption and anemia and lynching;....Margaret Walker (1915-1998), born in Birmingham Alabama, daughter of a Methodist ministerAngola (Louisiana) (one of the most notorious penitentiaries in the U.S.)Three-fourth MississippiRiver, one-fourth rattlesnakes,and for company, razorwirefences, experiments from South Africa, aging behind bars,all in their seventies,with no parole; perhaps2500 natural life sentences,30-year lifers behind bars.Still, the roads have flowers;and in the prison hospitalthe Lifers Association creedis in full bloom, technicalsupernovas of the TV world;you avoid mirrors as you can’tavoid hard labor, false teeth,high blood pressure, rape:all this in the prison magazine....I was born on False River:tell my story in amplitudefrom one slavery to another;give me the pure medicinefor rape, murder, the nectarin balm for the barroom fight;teach me to read, and write. For Ernest J. GainesMichael S. Harper (1938– ), born in Brooklyn, N.Y.All excerpts from Michael S. Harper & Anthony Walton, eds., Vintage Book of African American Poetry - 200 Years of Vision, Struggle, Power, Beauty, and Triumph from 50 Outstanding Poets, February 2000
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